Roosters v Bulldogs
Friday April 4, 7:40pm (local), Allianz Stadium
Here’s something you won’t hear me say too often: The Roosters played their best game of the first four rounds last week when they went down to Manly….and scored no points.
Only one try was conceded in their 8-0 loss and the Roosters themselves were deservedly pretty chuffed with their output.
Oh, did I mention Sonny Bill Williams is back? SBW retakes his place in the squad after serving his 3 match suspension and you can expect him to come out of the boxes playing his best footy. It’s a massive bonus for the Roosters but taking Williams’ place in the doghouse is Jared Waerea Hargreaves after copping a suspension. The club has stated they feel confident the rest of the side can help fill that void accordingly as Dylan Napa moves into the front row for Hargreaves.
A similar effort to last week’s grind might be required when they front up to a Bulldogs side that also had their best game of the year and scored 40 points.
The Doggies were fairly clinical in Perth last Saturday albeit against a Storm side sans Cameron Smith. Confidence will be high amongst the Canterbury team as a result but wins against the best sides like the Storm can also breed complacency and Coach Des Hasler will be wary of this.
Five-eighth Josh Reynolds will once again be a key man to watch. Reynolds seems to have almost taken it upon himself to get his side up every week and his enthusiasm is second to none. Reynolds’ attacking game is on song and he currently sits equal first in the league for try assists with 6 to his name.
In the betting department things look a bit difficult to find a solid best bet with the Roosters at the short quote of $1.40
I was looking for a total match points line of 40.5 or more but most books have it set at 38.5 so I think we’ll just leave it alone.
If you’re keen to have a bet regardless, perhaps you’ll get some fun out of the 6.5 point tri-bet with the ‘both teams under 6.5’ option.
Mike’s Tip: Roosters
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Tri-bet – Either team to win under 6.5 points @ $3.15 (Sportingbet)
Broncos v Eels
Friday April 4, 8:00pm (local), Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos continue to surprise everyone, including some of their own players as they make their way through the premiership and currently sit at the top of the standings just a fraction behind the Dragons on for and against points.
If only they hadn’t choked against the Roosters in round 3, the Broncs would be out in front of the pack on their own breathing fresh air.
That’s all irrelevant now as they gear up for another home game and the Parramatta Eels. Justin Hodges returns to the fray after being out since round 22 last year with an achilles tendon injury and it will be interesting to see if the healing process has had any effect on his speed or confidence.
The Eels will cross the border having disposed of the Panthers at home last week in a performance that has people calling them anything other than the usual name of ‘easy beats’.
I mentioned the big ‘if’ regarding the Broncos loss and there was one for Parra too: ‘If’ they hadn’t have lost to the Sea Eagles in the last minute of their round 3 match, they would be equal first on the ladder!
Sandow returned to the side last week and whilst I had some doubts about the comeback to first grade, I did mention that if Sandow was a good enough choice for Brad Arthur, he was good enough for me. Sandow didn’t disappoint, carrying out a consummate performance at halfback and looking like a real veteran as he constantly advised his team mates to simply ‘calm down’. Hopefully Sandow himself stays calm after what can be considered an emphatic performance.
What am I betting on here? Nothing sorry! The form lines and results of these two sides are scattered all over the place. The Broncos only conceded 12 points in both of their first two games before conceding 30 and 20 points respectively in the next two games played at home and away.
The Eels are much the same. Their points concessions over the first 4 rounds read like so: 16, 56, 22 and 16. Too hard for me to tell what might specifically transpire here. Good luck if you have a punt.
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Semi Radradra to score a try at anytime @ $2.02 (Bookmaker)
Sharks v Warriors
Saturday April 5, 3pm (local), Remondis Stadium
Poor old Sharkies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it’s a rough time to be a Cronulla supporter as your team sits lonely at the bottom of the comp as the only name without two points next to it. The players showed signs of a fight against the Dragons in round 3 but seemingly capitulated before they got off the team bus in round 4.
Of course I understand that injuries have plagued the Sharks but as I predicted in the preseason, coach Peter Sharp has nothing to offer to the situation except confused looks.
The Warriors collected another two points last week against a Tigers side that suffered injuries throughout the game that left them no chance of competing. It didn’t give us much of a true indication as to how well the Warriors are/aren’t playing at the moment.
So in that case, we had better just sit back, crack a coldie and take in what information is given to us by the two sides after 80 minutes.
If you’re after betting advice on this match then here it is: Don’t bet.
The Warriors are unpredictable at the best of times and it’s hard to know whether they will play like rocks or diamonds.
The Sharks…well we expect them to play like rocks but you just never know where and when they will pull that first season win out of their little shark hats. If they happen to catch the Warriors waltzing around Remondis Stadium looking for an easy kill, they could collect their first lot of competition points. After all, they almost toppled the Dragons here two weeks ago.
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: None
Panthers v Raiders
Saturday April 5, 5:30pm (local), Sportingbet Stadium
The Panthers first three games of the season finally caught up with them last week when they faced the Eels. Those of you who read last week’s preview would know that we were expecting that result so I doubt there is much for Panthers fans to worry about at the present time.
This week the Panthers return home to Sportingbet Stadium with a ‘fresh start’ feeling of sorts after grinding their way through the first 3 rounds and the tide of expectations planted firmly on the team’s shoulders following some busy off season recruitment. Two key players return in Peter Wallace and Josh Mansour to give Penrith one of their strongest possible line ups from their best 25. Wallace keeps things calm around the ruck as nothing tends to faze him whilst Mansour provides power, strength and speed which are attributes becoming more of a must amongst modern day wingers.
The Raiders come to Sydney’s west off the back of a huge underdog victory against the Rabbitohs. Full credit goes to the Raiders for that win but the Rabbitohs played in a manner that resembled zombie like behaviour. It certainly didn’t give the Canberra players a true test, but it did plenty to boost their confidence.
Out of that game came injuries for hard men Joel Edwards and Shaun Fensom and while Edwards looks likely to play, there could be some doubt as to whether or not Fensom will take the field. I get the feeling it would take Armageddon to stop Fensom.
Best bets? Yes! We have one here. The Panthers thrive in their home games and the Raiders don’t fare so well away from Canberra. The Penrith players will have it in their heads that they are truly capable of a solid bounce back performance and the aforementioned returns of Wallace and Mansour really tickle my fancy. Plus it will be played on a dry-ish Sportingbet Stadium surface in daylight hours which will suit the Panthers.
Mike’s Tip: Panthers
Mike’s Best Bet: Panthers -5.5 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Dragons v Rabbitohs
Saturday April 5, 7:30pm (local), SCG
What better place to hold a heritage round match than at the SCG? This year it’s the Dragons taking on the Rabbitohs although some will make the valid claim that the latter are taking on themselves after putting in a woeful performance last week against the Raiders. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the term ‘putting in’ because some players stood around like statues.)
So where to from here for the Rabbitohs? Well it looks like Coach Michael Maguire has gone one step back and reverted to a player line up that more resembles the 2013 team that had so much success. Is it the right move? I think so, but only time will tell.
It’s my opinion the player reshuffle will have a positive effect coupled with a boosted attitude from the players in general as they would no doubt be feeling embarrassed after last week’s lackadaisical display.
The changes include; Tuquri being dropped and being replaced by Bryson Goodwin on the wing. Dylan Walker moves from five-eighth to fill the Goodwin void in the centres and John Sutton will resume his five eighth role.
It’s a positive approach and one that I am confident will yield a win on a fast SCG track.
But of course, their opponents the Dragons, have proven to be no easy beats and will probably be able to post a few points on the scoreboard themselves.
Josh Dugan returns to the fullback position and we know the guy doesn’t lack confidence and will no doubt be getting involved from the outset. Dugan certainly provides an extra element in attack and the Rabbitohs need to get on top of him quickly.
The flow of betting money has been in favour of the Dragons thanks largely to the return of Dugan, but I’m happy to take them on in what will be a high scoring affair.
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.74 (Pinnacle)
Storm v Titans
Storm: 1.Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Young Tonumaipea 6. Ben Hampton 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Those of you who saw the Storm play last week know that hooker Cameron Smith was missing from the side and that alarm bells start ringing once he is missing.
Smith returns this week from a back complaint and the Storm return to Melbourne following their trip out west.
An 8 day rest since the Storm’s last game is probably what the team needed to recharge the batteries and get their defence in order.
The last start was definitely one to forgive and hardly an indication of the true form of the Storm.
Their opponents the Titans might be sitting on 3 wins after 4 rounds but it certainly doesn’t reflect the type of footy they have been manufacturing and it’s lucky the Gold Coast side has been up against some ordinary teams so far this season. Travelling to AAMI Park to take on a Storm side hurting after last week’s shock flogging, will quickly find the Titans out if they continue to play the way they have been in attack.
The Titan’s defence has been one of the few saving graces in their poor performances and it’s going to be put to one of the NRL’s ultimate tests in this one.
A positive sign to come out of last week was five-eighth Aiden Sezer’s positive application in attack and if he can put in another good performance next to halfback Albert Kelly it could be the catalyst for turning the Titan’s season into a more consistent one from here on in.
Betting in this match is one for the long term punters. The Storm are out to $1.32 on Pinnacle and are expected by many to cover the -10.0 line. That in itself is a tad risky in my opinion but I do have little doubt that they can win comfortably. Therefore I’m just happy to invest some funds on the Storm for the win head to head.
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Best Bet: Storm Head to Head @ $1.32 (Pinnacle)
Tigers v Sea Eagles
Sunday April 6, 3:00pm (local), Leichardt Oval
Leichhardt Oval; one of the last traditional venues used by a club as a home ground. The Tigers love playing here and there’s no doubting they always seem to ramp their efforts up a notch when returning to Leichhardt.
The Tigers have had a better than expected start to the season with wins over the Titans and more surprisingly, the Rabbitohs. The train was derailed a bit last week when they were thumped by the Warriors but they can be forgiven after they were down to just 13 players in the last quarter of the game, hence the flogging.
The Sea Eagles’ previous week was a much different one to that of the Tigers. The boys from Brookvale had to front up to the reigning premiers to play out the Grand Final replay in what turned out to be a true test of form in the grittiest of games. Manly passed said test with flying colours as they ground their way to a gutsy 8-0 win.
A win like that generally means a team is the real deal, but we already knew that about Manly and have known it for a long time. There’s a champion quality about this crew that manages to find that extra effort when confronted by the top teams, and if they treat this heritage round match at Leichhardt in the same manner, expect another win.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be throwing the mortgage on the Sea Eagles in betting. Manly might be capable of finding that extra ‘oomph’ for big games, but the Tigers are capable of the same when playing back at Leichhardt Oval. Therefore I’ll be just sitting back and enjoying some classic Sunday arvo footy.
As Phil Gould would say,
“They love their Sunday footy in Leichhardt.”
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Manly Head to Head @ $1.50 (Sportsbet)
Cowboys v Knights
Monday April 7, 7pm (local), 1300Smiles Stadium
What’s going on with the Cowboys?
It’s becoming an old, tired story about how they are so well fancied at the start of each season but are left in the blocks as other teams commence their seasons. Johnathan Thurston’s troops are looking down the barrel of a 3rd consecutive season where they may have to make a late season charge in order to make the finals series. And it’s only the ‘troops’ I’m referring to and not Thurston himself as he once again busts a gut trying to almost carry the team on his own.
A bit of help from a reliable halfback might help five-eighth Thurston but Robert Lui is only good at playing the role either spectator or passenger as things happen around him.
Thurston was seen giving his players an almighty spray at the end of last week’s loss to the Titans and I’d hate to see what will happen if they drop another game here and end up 1 and 4 after 5 rounds.
The Knights only notched up their first win last week against the Sharks and whilst there’s no doubting that the win was partly fueled by emotions surrounding the Alex McKinnon incident, it’s worth noting that Darius Boyd’s return to fullback had a big bearing on the team’s 30 – 0 win.
The win may have proved to be a turning point for the Knights season and if they can nab a win on the road and make it two consecutive, confidence levels will be high heading into the next few weeks when regular five-eighth Jarrod Mullen returns to the line up from his hamstring injury.
I was very tempted to go with the Knights to win with the +6.5 line ($1.95 on Pinnacle) but I think the bookies are dead right with those odds and aren’t giving away a scrap of value.
But I still like the bet and if you’re having a punt, even though I won’t be, I’d recommend this being your option.
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Knights +6.5 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle)